For the base:
4 large chicken thighs (about 1kg)
2 tablespoons vegetable or sunflower oil
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
2 celery sticks, chopped into 2cm (1 inch) pieces
1 large leek, cut into medium chunks
A few celery leaves (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon vegetable or sunflower oil
1 large onion, cut lengthwise and into strips
2 teaspoons minced garlic
170g tomato paste
1 cup cold water
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (½ lemon)
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
200g dried apricots
Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.
Prepare the chicken- rinse the chicken thighs under cold running water, pat dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large frying pan, add the chicken pieces and cook for a few minutes on each side until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Prepare the sauce – heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the same frying pan over medium heat and cook the onion, stirring until golden and soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further 1 minute.
In a medium size bowl, combine the remaining sauce ingredients, except the apricots, and pour into the frying pan with the onions and garlic. Bring the sauce to a boil over a high heat, then turn off the heat and set aside.
Arrange one layer of chicken over a large, shallow ovenproof casserole dish (it is better if the chicken thighs fit snugly, so that the sauce will not dry out). Arrange the celery, pepper, leek and celery leaves, if using, around the chicken. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the apricots over the chicken and pour over half the sauce, reserving the rest for later. Cover with a tight fitting lid or foil and cook in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, pour on the remaining sauce and continue to cook, covered, until the chicken is very tender, about 30 minutes.
Serve hot with plain rice, with the sauce spooned over.
Keywords: Syrian, apricots, kosher, chicken, tamarind